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Piran angel grounded after more than a century in the air

Piran, 6 August - A landmark copper statue of Archangel Michael which watched over the coastal town of Piran touched firm ground after more than a century on Monday, as a crew of soldiers, climbers, cavers and firefighters carefully unmounted it from its perch atop a church steeple to renovate it.

Piran
The copper statue of Archangel Michael on the ground after it was unmounted from the steeple of St. George's Church in Piran for renovation.
Photo: Mitja Volčanšek/STA

Piran
The copper statue of Archangel Michael dangles from a cable as a Slovenian Armed Forces helicopter unmounts it from the steeple of St. George's Church in Piran for renovation.
Photo: Mitja Volčanšek/STA

Piran
The copper status of Archangel Michael before it was removed from the steeple of St. George's Church in Piran for renovation.
Photo: Mitja Volčanšek/STA

It took a helicopter just fifteen minutes to snatch the copper-sheet statue from the steeple of St. George's Church and bring it safely to the ground, which it last touched 110 years ago.

"The feeling is utterly angelic," said the Zorko Bajc, who has been the parish priest for 18 years but had never before had the chance to see the statue up-close.

The archangel has braved the strong coastal winds for two and a half centuries - it was installed in 1769, a year before James Cook discovered Australia - but a strong bora gust ripped off a portion of its wing this February.

The 320-kilo statue, which doubles as a weather vane, will now be renovated. The priest hopes it will return to the top of the steeple in two months, although it could take a bit longer since the damage is worse than initially thought.

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© STA, 2018